#7: "A faith is a necessity to man. Woe to him who believes in nothing."
Where: Page 521.
What's Happening: This is another point, like the previous Victor Hugo-ism (#6), where not much is happening plot-wise. Hugo is still giving us background information on the convent that Jean Valjean and Cosette will seek refuge at and additionally, giving some examples of why faith and work done with the mind is important.
What I Learned: First and foremost, the second sentence is absolutely beautiful. "Woe to him who believes in nothing"...it is musical, it is powerful, it is true. And although Hugo's thoughts here certainly stem from information and reflection on the convent, I think that this statement can go beyond religious faith. I do certainly think that religious faith is an important aspect of Hugo's remarks here, because Jean Valjean believed in something; he believed in God and this is one of the things that helped him turn his life completely around to become such a good, loving, philanthropic man. But I also believe that faith in anything can be a necessity to human beings. There is faith in your family, in your significant other, and your friends; most definitely a special belief in those closest to you that nurture those relationships. Furthermore, faith in love, in life, in goodness; these forces aren't human and don't have eyes or ears and can't talk back to you, and yet we put our utmost faith in the hands that we can't see. Or faith in a favorite band ("Don't stop believing! Hold on to that feeeee-eeeeeling!"), in an actor, in a superhero; people who are almost larger than life and people who we might quite possibly never meet in person, but whose work touches us in some huge way and instills some kind of faith, no matter how small, in us. There are so many different kinds of "faith" and I agree with Hugo that it must be horribly sad and truly unfortunate when a man has absolutely nothing in life to believe in. There is always something, even if it's only tomorrow...and of course, to me, that is one of the biggest triumphs in Les Misérables: tomorrow always comes!